As the school year moves forward and our children are starting to get into their routines, as parents we must stay informed and be aware of what lies ahead for public education in our state. Right now Florida PTA is working hard to bring you the facts and the latest information on Common Core State Standards, Assessments, School Grading and Teacher Accountability.
In August, your President, together with other parents, teachers, politicians, superintendents, the Chair of the Board of Education, Executive Director of the School Board Association, the Head of the Teachers Union, Business Community and lobbyists were brought together to convene the Governor's Education Summit. We discussed the vision for all the above topics. And yes there were parents represented that are against the Common Core too. All voices were heard.
As your elected leader, I feel that it is important to remind all, what the mission of the PTA is. The overall purpose of PTA is to make every child's potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.
PTA Values are:
Collaboration: We work in partnership with a wide array of individuals and organizations to accomplish our agreed-upon goals.
Commitment: We are dedicated to promoting children's health, well-being, and educational success through strong parent, family and community involvement.
Accountability: We acknowledge our obligations. We deliver on our promises.
Respect: We value our colleagues and ourselves. We expect the same high quality of effort and thought from ourselves as we do from others.
Inclusivity: We invite the stranger and welcome the newcomer. We value and seek input from as wide a spectrum of viewpoints and experiences as possible.
Integrity: We act consistently with our beliefs. When we err, we acknowledge the mistake and seek to make amends.
There have been a lot of rumors and myths about where we stand on Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
1. In order to understand CCSS, you must know that they are Standards and not curriculum, Florida has always had standards and they are the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS) and were used as a model for many other states. Standards are relevant and clear.
2. Why is CCSS important? Standards will not vary from state to state or district to district. National PTA has supported common voluntary standards for over 20 years - the first position statement was adopted in 1981. Students will be prepared to succeed in college and career.
3. CCSS is a joint effort of the National Governor's Association and Council of Chief State School Officers in Partnership with ACT, the College Board and Achieve. In others words, it was a group of Governors and Educators who developed the standards. People with expertise in Mathematics and English language arts wrote the standards. There was an initial draft and it was released to provide educators, experts and parents the ability to comment on the draft standards. The comments were incorporated in the final product.
4. Fact: With CCSS, every child will receive the same quality education no matter what zip code they live in. Each state will be able to incorporate the standards to the culture of their population. For example, the reading list will be reviewed and revised if need be, by the Florida Department of Education (DOE).
5. Fact: The children who entered Kindergarten three years ago and now are in the third grade have only been taught Common Core Standards. In the middle and high school grades they are being taught a blend of CCSS and NGSSS.
6. Fact: It is the Assessment of CCSS that we as parents should be watching and monitoring. Some concerns:
1. Will they be aligned to the standards? 2. Provide meaningful information for parents and teachers 3. Will they be graded timely and will we receive the results? 4. Are they valid??? 5. Test time - how long with the test take? 6. Technology requirements - will every school be equipped and ready??? Will our children be keyboard ready for the test? 7. Will the DOE choose the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC) or come up with a Custom Assessment or choose a Shelf or Semi Shelf Assessment Product? 8. What will happen for the next three years until all the data is in before we can actually see clear results of the standards, will our schools grades be affected??? 9. What happens to our teachers pay with all the new results? 10. COST???
We will be monitoring the above concerns for you, and will inform you throughout the school year and during Legislation session. We are working with our Interim Commissioner of Education, Pam Stewart, and the Department Of Education bringing your concerns.
Parents you need to ask the questions of your Principal and Superintendent. Attend town hall meetings, and you should be going on the Florida DOE website or Florida PTA's website to find out the latest correct information.
Please do not believe emails, newspapers articles and rumors. Be an informed consumer and parent.
In closing, if people ask you not to join the PTA because of where we stand on certain positions, please let them know, that maybe their choice, however we will still advocate for their child and all Florida's children! We wouldn't single out any child sitting in a classroom and ask them if their parents have joined the PTA - - - because we advocate for all children!!! Why PTA? Because all of our children matter!!
Wishing every student a safe and successful school year! Remember September is PTA Membership Month! Ask and they will join!
The Florida PTA's 2013 - 2014 Scholarship Application is Now Available on our website(www.floridapta.org).
Florida PTA is excited to announce a total of four (4) scholarships to 2013 - 2014 graduating Florida seniors for the 2014 - 2015 school year to continue their higher education. The scholarships are a one-time non-renewable award in the amount of $2,000.00 and 1 scholarship will be awarded in each of the following categories: University, Fine Arts, Community College, and Vo-Tech.
Requirements for each student to apply for this scholarship include:
1. Be a member of their high school's PTA/PTSA or the Sunshine State PTSA (PTA/PTSA must be in good standing).
2. Graduate from a Florida High School in the 2013-2014 school year.
3. Be a resident of the state of Florida.
4. Planning to continue their education in the 2014-2015 school year in the state of Florida at a University, Fine Arts, Community College, or Vo-Tech.
5. Fully complete the application, available on our website: www.floridapta.org/programs/scholarship, submit letters of recommendation, an essay, a copy of their PTA/PTSA membership card, copy of their official high school transcript, and ACT and/or SAT scores.
Additional factors will be taken into consideration in selecting a winner (e.g. need, special circumstances, extracurricular activities, honors, etc.).
* Deadline for all applications is February 1, 2014. All applications must be postmarked by that date in order to be considered.
*Tickets to the LEGOLAND WATERPARK are AVAILABLE for an upgrade of an additional $15.00 per person. (You must purchase the tickets through our website link, and then pay the upgrade at the LEGOLAND gate.)
(THAT'S MORE THAN 1/2 OFF THE REGULAR ADMISSION PRICE!)
Many PTAs run only one membership campaign a year-in the fall. But those units that run more than one campaign a year have, on average, 20 percent more members. That's because potential members have more opportunities to say "yes" to becoming a member.
Let's be clear: Education in Florida is at a crossroads. Finally, there is debate outside Tallahassee on issues including learning standards, assessment, accountability, teacher evaluations, and school grades. It appears this may be the time to make meaningful changes in a system that has ballooned out of control.
The time spent on testing is unreasonable and unproductive, consuming most of the months of April and May in high schools.
The formula applied to the results for grading high schools is complicated and misleading.
Teacher evaluations are unwieldy and reflect little of what teachers accomplish in the classroom, some covering 60 criteria, almost half of which are not direct instruction.
Privacy and data mining are real concerns.
Assessing student learning is necessary, but results should not be used as they have been in the past, much less even more egregiously, and here is where there is plenty of "fight" to be had.
But let's not misdirect the "fight" to Common Core. Let's direct the "fight" to what is happening to Common Core as opponents seek ways to undermine it.
Common Core was a good idea in the beginning for establishing common state learning standards. It has become a behemoth still called "Common Core" but as if the words were offensive. Now, designating much more than learning standards, "Common Core" includes anything and everything. Instead of delineating the standards and expectations for learning, the "what" of teaching and learning, opponent groups are claiming it also establishes the "how." They call it the Common Core Curriculum. "Curriculum" is the course of instruction offered by an educational institution based on the requirements needed for graduation as set by the state. The standards are what should be learned from that course. In other words, "standards" and "curriculum" are not the same.
Opponents have other objections to Common Core besides that it prescribes the "how" of teaching.
They suggest that local control will disappear. How? If your child is not learning because of school district practices, take it on.
They are claiming it will cost too much to implement Common Core. If a school district does not have professional development plans and funds, those districts need to work on that. Florida has had standards for years: Sunshine State Standards and Next Generation Sunshine State Standards. The Common Core standards are not that different but do shift us to more critical thinking and comprehension in all areas. For most schools, the moves to different standards will blend NGSSS and Common Core. And yes, teachers are capable of making these transitions if they haven't already. If you really read the Common Core standards, you will realize that they reflect what good teachers already do.
They claim the standards don't go far enough, that they don't meet international standards, especially in math. A standard is a "level of quality or attainment," or "an idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations." The standard is the desired goal, not the limit or the cap. There is nothing inherent in a standard that precludes students from going above and beyond the standard.
They are concerned that literature will disappear. That concern is unfounded. For the last several years, the FCAT Reading passages have been 30 percent fiction and 70 percent non-fiction. That is the Common Core standard.
Outrageously, some groups are calling for the protection of our children from Common Core standards, as though the standards were dangerous or unreasonable or unjustified.
However, there is a "fight" to be had.
Any increase in the use of standardized tests to assess students or schools deserves evaluation, criticism, and opposition.
Testing should inform and drive instruction, thereby improving student achievement and success.
Privacy of student data should be guaranteed and protected.
Teachers, parents, and students should share accountability in the education of our children.
Let's stop letting "Common Core" be an offensive epithet. Let's keep the Common Core standards moving forward; they are good for the education of our students.